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The Great Studio Clean Up!


No question what I’m writing about today! I have spent the last ten days decluttering, cleaning and rearranging things in my studio so that it would better suit my painting. Sheesh! I have a bad habit of setting papers and things aside to look at or file “later.” A likely story, eh? Boring stuff. Medicare For You, set-up guides for various electronic gadgets, insurance papers, bank stuff. Ugh. Things I never actually read or even want in my line of vision. But also articles I thought I’d read “one day,” my own handwritten lists of amazing ideas for creative projects, notes to self about all sorts of deep and interesting things and other possibly pithy writing–piles and piles and piles of paper.

Then there are all the hundreds of cards, notes and letters from people in my life, bits that make one feel quite loved, that one feels a definite pang about throwing away, things that one chooses, in the end, never to throw away. Those self-same loved ones will have to do it one day. C’est la vie! In the last ten days I have gone through at least ten very large piles of all these kinds of things in order to clear space in my studio (i.e., my brain) for painting.

Everyone knows that clutter in the environment really does clutter the brain. And once it starts, it grows, like mold. Ugh. Think of that! I have been working in a very messy environment for years, painting within a tiny space, all of my own doing. My many shelves and drawers have been jammed full of things–art supplies, cards made by others and bought by me, scads of collage materials. People say, “Oh, well, you’re an artist. You’re allowed.” No. Well, yes, I’m allowed, but it is still terrible and not fun.

Now that the paper rack is down, I have a nice big painting wall.

About halfway through the process, I looked around the room and thought, it looks almost the same. Ai-yi-yi!!! My son concurred. I was chipping away at the piles but my work surface was still crowded and tiny. Thus, I persisted. We took many bags of paper stuff to recycling. I dismantled and took down the great hulking paper rack holding handmade papers for collage. I don’t use the papers nearly as much now as I used to and the rack felt like a dinosaur leaning over me. I found a much better, more compact way to hang the papers and I put smaller pieces into bins with lids, reducing the visual clutter.

My pretty writing desk was not usable for writing, at all. And the floor beneath it was piled with stuff. Why, the rocks alone! Good God! I put a box marked COOL ROCKS on the curb and several of those were taken. (Also, I’m pretty sure at least one dog peed on it.) I have many more rocks that one would not even call “cool,” and they will be going back to the creek.

Today I gave a bunch of truly fun stuff to a friend for his granddaughter. Imagining her receiving all of it excited me nearly as much as the actual transformed studio. (Okay, I exaggerate. But I’d love to be a fly on the wall when she gets all of it.)

My toys are safely stored in a desk drawer. They’re not going anywhere!

So now, NOW I have some room to breathe.

Now I go again and again into the studio just to look. And I say to Oliver, “See? Look! Look at this!” After ten days he is, I think it’s fair to say, tired of being asked to look. My pretty writing desk! My big empty painting wall!! My expanded work surface. The drafting table. All mine. All ready for me. Of course, it was always all mine and it was I and no one else who turned it into a giant mess. Oliver? No. The dogs? No. Sadly, it was I. You did this to yourself, Old Lady.

But now, NOW look!

“Organization and cleanliness bring spaciousness. When there is space, inspiration and new possibilities can come in.” ― Aline Ra M, Bullshit-Free Mindfulness

“The mindless accumulation of vast mountains of stuff is unforgivably dumb. Mindful curation of meaningful possessions can be a great source of joy.”― Richard Meadows

“If it doesn’t nourish your soul, get rid of it.” –

“If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?” – Albert Einstein

If you’re looking for my cards or art, you’ll find all of that on my website. And if you enjoy these letters, feel free to forward this one to anyone you think might like it. And if someone forwarded this one to you, you can sign up here to receive the letters right in your Inbox. Finally, you’ll find past letters and poems here.

Thanks for listening,

P.S. MerryThoughts is the name of my first book, out of print at the moment. The word is a British one, referring both to a wishbone and to the ritual of breaking the wishbone with the intention of either having a wish granted or being the one who marries first, thus the “merry thoughts.”

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